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Kuhu Saha

A 2008 graduate of the University of Michigan, Kuhu Saha brings all the positivity, energy, and enthusiasm of youth to her job as executive director of Give Merit’s FATE program. Give Merit is the nonprofit arm of clothing company Merit Goodness and receives 20 percent of the brand’s revenues to fund and develop programs such as FATE.

Laurie Strauss Baumer

Marrying her passion for volunteerism and being the creator of your own opportunity, Ele’s Place President and CEO Laurie Strauss Baumer shares how her organization uses relationships as pavers in the road to success. 

Karen Gray Sheffield

Karen Gray Sheffield oversees multiple St. John Providence programs that benefit children, including Open Arms, which provides grief therapy for southeast Michigan children. She sees progress in an increased awareness around grief issues, with more people recognizing when children need grief support.

Lori Antkoviak

Five years ago, Safe Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center was in dire straights, leaving too many sexually abused and neglected children under served, according to its current executive director, Lori Antkoviak. A lifelong champion of children, she swiftly turned things around, substantially expanding services, including educational outreach, and medical attention, counseling, and temporary shelter for Allegan County’s abused youth.

Dorceta E. Taylor

A full stomach should not be a luxury. And sharp pains of hunger should never be the norm. Dr. Dorceta Taylor, a professor at University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, recently embarked on a five-year, federally funded research study on food insecurity in Michigan. She is identifying the state’s most underserved and beginning to connect them with the resources they need to have the simple dignity of regular, nutritious meals.

Ponsella Hardaway

MOSES Executive Director Ponsella Hardaway believes in the power of community organizing to change things for the better; not just lip service, but real, honest, open dialogue between people to find common cause. It’s sometimes difficult and uncomfortable, but she says it’s the only way to make real change. 

Rick Huisman

Rick Huisman’s winding career path has taken him from professional baseball player with the Kansas City Royals to entrepreneurship with a family business to his current role as executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth. He was first introduced to the organization through volunteer work during his time with the Royals.

Dara Munson

After working in the juvenile justice field and the United Way, Dara Munson became President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit in 2007. Munson is passionate about the mentoring organization that opens doors for Detroit youth and helps them to achieve greatness.

Travis Williams

Leader Travis Williams has worked for the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway since its 2000 inception and has been thoroughly involved with the nonprofit’s development. Williams uses experience in business development, nonprofit management, strategic planning and partnerships to drive the center’s growth and advancement.

Carrie Spencer

In sharing the natural world with children, Carrie Spencer, a naturalist at Seven Ponds Nature Center in Dryden, leads by example, letting the wonderment and peace she feels outdoors set the stage for students to learn about and become stewards for southeast Michigan’s natural resources.

Rhonda Buckley

After extensive education in music and business, more than a decade of teaching experience, and the eventual founding of a multidisciplinary arts center for inner-city youth in Washington, DC, Rhonda Buckley was lured back to Michigan when MSU asked her to serve as associate dean of the College of Music -- and develop a community music program in Detroit, her hometown. 

Aaron Dworkin

Aaron Dworkin is a 2005 MacArthur fellow, President Obama’s first appointee to the National Council on the Arts, and founder and president of the Sphinx Organization. He’s dedicated to providing young people of color in Detroit and Flint the opportunity to succeed in classical music, however they define that dream.

Sandra L. Standish

Sandra Standish has been a staunch and prolific child advocate in Kalamazoo County for over three decades. The former Superintendent of Comstock Public Schools now leads Kalamazoo County Ready 4s, an initiative that strives to make sure all young children in the county have access to high-quality pre-kindergarten education. In just one year, Ready 4s has doubled its enrollment.

Timothy J. Bartik

Dr. Timothy Bartik, author and economist, is an outspoken proponent of universal preschool and a research expert in the areas of early childhood education and state and local economic development. His opinion, in both realms, is that equity matters more than almost anything, and he has written several books on this subject matter.  

Kari Pardoe

Kari Pardoe believes that children can accomplish whatever they want and that drive, direction, and leadership can start with service learning. As director of The LEAGUE Michigan, a program for service, service learning, and philanthropy education, Pardoe sees amazing results with youth, who though they have little themselves, find ways to give to back. 
186 Articles | Page: | Show All
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Bright Ideas


Can systemic racism impact infant mortality?

Even when controlling for poverty, education level, and tobacco use of a mother, maternal and infant health outcomes are far worse for minority populations than European-American women. What's causing the continued disparities? And what can West Michigan do to ensure all babies born here have the best chance of reaching their potential? Zinta Aistars reports on Strong Beginnings, one local program working to give all families a fair start.

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Company Supports 4th Grade Field Trips to Lake Michigan

Parents working more than one job or odd hours, a lack of funds, and no transportation often prevent kids from experiencing one of Michigan’s incredible natural resources. For the majority of west side Grand Rapids elementary school kids, Lake Michigan is sadly out of reach. OST has teamed up with Grand Rapids Public Schools to give fourth-graders at west side schools the opportunity to experience the big lake firsthand.


Youth Decide Where Grant Dollars are Spent

For Grand Rapids students who serve as trustees-in-training on the GRCF Youth Grant Committee, giving back to the community goes hand in hand with empowering students to succeed. 
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